US: Iranian nuclear weapon is one year away

Defense Minister Ehud Barak (L) and US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta review an honor guard at the Defense Ministry in Tel Aviv in October. (Flash 90)



JERUSALEM (JWN and agencies)—US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has warned that Iran can produce a nuclear weapon within a year, but said the US opposes this and “shares common goals with Israel.”

In an interview Sunday on CBS Television’s 60 Minutes show, Panetta gave a suggested timetable for Iran’s developing a nuclear weapon.

“The consensus is that, if they decided to do it, it would probably take them about a year to be able to produce a bomb and then possibly another one to two years in order to put it on a deliverable vehicle of some sort in order to deliver that weapon,” Panetta said.

He said that the US and Israel share common goals regarding the necessity to stop Iran from developing nuclear weapons.

“The United States, and the president’s made this clear, does not want Iran to develop a nuclear weapon. That’s a red line for us. And it’s a red line obviously for the Israelis so we share a common goal here,” he told CBS.

“If they proceed and we get intelligence that they’re proceeding with developing a nuclear weapon, then we will take whatever steps are necessary to stop it,” he added.

Also on Sunday a six-member group of UN inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) arrived in Tehran—but not to inspect nuclear facilities, according to Iranian state television. The goal of the inspectors’ visit is apparently only to resume talks about Iran’s nuclear program.

Meanwhile, Iran responded on Monday to what it considers to be threats from America by stating that the US would not dare to attack it. Iran’s ground forces commander, Brig. Gen. Ahmad Reza Pourdasta, told state TV that, in fact, America and its allies are “fearful of the Iranian forces and nation.”

“They are fearful of the Iranian forces and nation,” state-run Press TV quoted Pourdasta as saying. Despite America’s military power, he said, the fears of Iranian retaliation would deter any kind of attack by the U.S.

Iran has issued one looming threat of retaliation: blocking oil transport through the Strait of Hormuz, through which passes most of Middle East oil to the rest of the world.